Two Mondays past I made plans with Jennifer B. to have dinner at Cilantro Indian Cuisine, but to our surprise it turns out Cilantro is closed on Mondays. After some deep thinking, I recalled having seen a Tampa Yelper checking-in on Yelp at Sate Southeast Asian Grill and recommending it. We had nothing to lose so we decided to give it a shot.
The concept of Sate Southeast Asian Grill is based around building your meal from the ground up. You choose the starch, meat, vegetables, sauce, and toppings and build your own meal, Chipotle-style. This concept has become quite popular in Tampa in recent years with several make-you-own sushi restaurants, such as Rollbotto and On-A-Roll, and build-your-own bowl restaurants, such as Genghis Grill, opening around the bay.
Sate is hidden away in the Sweetbay Plaza next to USF and the University Mall and is easy to miss if you’re driving up Fowler Avenue. The restaurant has done a good job with catering to students nearby by offering both a USF discount, in addition to affordable dinner options that will run you less than $7 for dinner (even less with a discount).
The tastes are nestled between Vietnamese and Thai cuisine and the sides and beverage choices reflect it. The $2 unlimited Thai Tea has to be one of the best deals I have seen in Tampa, where a Thai Tea can almost cost $2.95 a glass at some restaurants. Sate would be a great deal with just that, but the food is also very fresh and all the ingredients hit the right spot. The portions are huge so you might want to actually share a noodle bowl, Jennifer and I hardly made a dent in our bowls before we were full.
It might take some time to find exactly what you like since there are so many options at Sate Southeast Asian Grill, but with their excellent prices that is certainly not difficult and the employees are more than happy to let you sample meats and sauces and were very friendly and helpful as we made our choices on what to eat.
My favorite and choice of meat from my samples was the shredded pork. Some of the meats have some spice to them so be aware of that. I went with a peanut sauce and essentially made a more of a Thai dish which I paired with some of their Thai Tea, but in the future I may explore a more Vietnamese approach to my meal. I am interested in trying their soups and spring rolls in the future as well. If there was one thing I wish I could add to this menu, it would be bubble tea – I think it would complement the menu quite well.
Overall, Sate Southeast Asian Grill is a bargain meal with fresh ingredients, a friendly staff, and a great experience that can be different with each visit. I’ll be back.
Restaurant Name: Sate Southeast Asian Grill
Cuisine: Asian, Thai, Vietnamese
Address: 2716 E Fowler Ave. Tampa, FL 33612
Phone Number: (813) 977-8880